New Zealand consolidated the strong base they had built for themselves on day two at Lord’s, by putting up an impressive 523 on the board in response to England’s first innings score of 389. Kane Williamson, who was unbeaten in the 90s at stumps, went on to complete a well deserved hundred, eventually falling for a patient 132. Ross Taylor and BJ Watling also chipped in with fifties to take the Kiwis past 500. In response, Tim Southee and Trent Boult claimed two early scalps before the experienced pair of Alastair Cook and Ian Bell took England to 74 for 2 by the end of day’s play.
Williamson, without doubt, was the hero of the day, reaching his 10th Test hundred. With Taylor also crossing fifty, it was a rare instance for New Zealand as everyone from their top four making half-centuries. Had Brendon McCullum made eight runs more, it would have been five out of five. Still, Watling ensured that there was fight from Kiwis lower in the order. Credibly, Watling was battling a knee injury, and could not keep wickets in England’s second innings again, but his batting was dogged nonetheless.
Williamson got to his hundred with a dab to third man. The celebrations were muted as the batsman knew he still had a job to do. Taylor too crossed his fifty soon, and McCullum, continuing with his World Cup histrionics smashed 42 from 38 balls. Williamson was eventually caught a leg-slip when be bat padded Moeen Ali to leg slip. Williamson ended up having batted for 370 minutes, with 15 fours to his credit. By the time he was dismissed, New Zealand had progressed to 470 for 6, and were well on top.
England actually did reasonably to comeback after New Zealand had reached an imposing score for 403 for 3. However, the fightback came a bit too late. Debutant Mark Wood got both big hitter McCullum and Corey Anderson in quick succession. Ali then chipped in with the wickets of Williamson and Mark Craig, the latter being trapped lbw. James Anderson, who had struggled in the innings, finally got a number in the wickets column, when he dismissed Southee. Wood and Stuart Broad brought the innings to a close with their third wicket each, but Kiwis were well in the lead.
England needed a confident start in reply. Adam Lyth began with three well-timed boundaries, but an outswinger from Boult had him edging to Southee at third slip. Southee himself got into the wicket-taking act, when he cleaned up Gary Ballance with a brilliant outswinger for a duck. Cook and Bell then batted out for the rest of the day, and took England to 74 for 2 at the end of the day’s play. The visitors clearly have the edge going into the last two days, and England will have to bat very well in the second innings to save the Lord’s Test.
--By A Cricket Correspondent